In 2010 India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh unveiled the Jawaharlal Nehru Solar Mission with the aim of raising India’s solar power output from 170 megawatts to 20,000MW by 2022. While the project will be a major initiative to help safeguard India’s energy security and international climate commitments, the Solar Mission has been set up to help formulate policy and logistical conditions which will enable the streamlining of renewable technology penetration in India at both the state and local levels. To this end, the government has mandated that photovoltaic cells and modules must be sourced domestically, and that at least 30% of advanced power systems be made by domestic manufacturers.
This caveat has been received with some disfavor by the present American administration. In the 1960s and 1970s during the heyday of the state protection Raj India missed out on the global boom in semiconductor manufacturing, which reaped vast rewards for Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea as engines to building a high-skilled domestic manufacturing base. Yet with forward five year GDP growth forecasted at over 6% per annum, and a national electricity deficit of over 10% of daily demand, there will be vast opportunities for both domestic and foreign solar module makers over the next ten years for projects both covered and not covered by the mission. India’s latest budget has also encouraged foreign solar companies by lowering customs duty on solar panels by 5% and exempting excise duty on solar photovoltaic panels.
India has available sunlight capacity of over 300 days per year, a significant geographical base for technological deployment, the world’s largest consumer base and one of the world’s largest aggregate growth rates for the perceivable future. State governments in Gujarat, Karnataka, and Rajasthan are already planning deployment of new energy resources with a mix of conventional and renewable projects in mind, with developers free to source material and technology from wherever they choose. With prices of photovoltaic panels falling globally, American technology providers should look to India to soak up excess capacity.